Nuestra Señora de Belén

ML031 Box 28 Marian Holy Card Collection


Puerto Rico


Nuestra Señora de Belén (Our Lady of Bethlehem) is a Flemish-style oil painting that arrived in Puerto Rico. Art specialists attribute the painting of Nuestra Señora de Belén to Rogier van der Weyden, whom was a painter from Brussels. The painting, which is on a wooden canvas, depicts Nuestra Señora de Belén, as being medium sized, relatively pale face, and strawberry red hair. Around her head are rays as she bares a breast while feeding baby Jesus. According to legend, the painting of Our Lady of Bethlehem appeared next to a fountain, which would later be the place where the Dominican convent in San Juan would be founded, during the early 1500s.

The painting of Nuestra Señora de Belén became significant during the Battle of San Juan (1797). The Battle of San Juan (1797) was a British assault on the city of San Juan, Puerto Rico. During this attack, bishop Juan Bautista Zengotita gave the order of daily public prayers to be said in parishes located in San Juan. According to Cayetano Coll y Toste's legend, the painting of Nuestra Señora de Belén was carried through the city as participants, whom were mostly women, carried torches and candles while singing songs. This resulted in the British army being frightened at the sight and deciding to retreat, no longer threatening the city. In celebration, renowned painter José Campeche attributed the protection of San Juan to Our Lady of Bethlehem. To show his gratitude, Campeche devoted much of his time to reproducing a number of paintings of Nuestra Señora de Belén. José Campeche’s actions would catch the attention of the people of San Juan, who then would begin to refer to Nuestra Señora de Belén as “La Protectora de la Ciudad”, which translates to “Guardian of the City” in English. Some of Campeche’s paintings of Nuestra Señora de Belén can be found in Old San Juan's National Gallery and the Museum of the Universidad de Puerto Rico in Río Piedras. In 1806, Juan Alejo de Arizmendi, the first Puerto Rican bishop, granted forty days of indulgence to those who said a Hail Mary in front of the image. Indulgence offers a way to reduce the time one must undergo in punishments for sins while in Purgatory.



“January 21 - La Virgen De Belén (San Juan, Puerto Rico).”

The Marian Times, 21 Jan. 2018,




Researched by Aneudy De Jesus

Popular Devotions

Popular Devotion: Prayer to images of Our Lady of Bethlehem

Hail Mary

Dios te salve, María. Llena eres de gracia: El Señor es contigo.

Bendita tú eres entre todas las mujeres.

Y bendito es el fruto de tu vientre: Jesús.

Santa María, Madre de Dios, ruega por nosotros pecadores,

ahora y en la hora de nuestra muerte.


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